Monday, May 10, 2010

Down with pundits!

The Washington Post asked twelve people what in the world they would like to get rid of. Surprisingly, perhaps, one of the people that they asked, Donna Brazile who is herself a TV pundit, said that we should get rid of pundits. I agree.

As far as I can tell, the only function of the TV pundit is to scream at his/her opposite number. The modus operandi of cable television is to bring on two pundits from opposite ends of the political spectrum and let them yell back and forth at each other, adding heat but no light to the subject. They get extra points if they constantly interrupt the other person and never let him/her finish a thought. In fact, the whole purpose of the pundit is to keep the other person from coherently stating his case. It doesn't matter if the professional pundit doesn't really have a cogent case himself/herself, he/she wins by simply not letting the other person talk. This, then, is what passes for "fair and balanced" journalism in the world of cable news.

Brazile says, in part, "If a single move could restore civility to politics, that is it. Get rid of the left-vs.-right commentators who are just out scoring points for their team. This sort of opinion-mongering is not only boring and predictable, it is destructive of the truth. If your only credentials are "GOP shill" or "Democratic hack," you've no business cluttering up the airwaves or the op-ed pages. My momma always told me that if you don't know what you're talking about, it's best to keep your mouth shut. That's good advice."

That is good advice, but advice that is not often followed in the world of politics.

So who should replace the pundits on cable news shows? Brazile suggests that it should be genuinely knowledgable people, people who have actual experience and expertise in the issues of the day - things like health care reform, the vagaries of the financial system, immigration policies, etc.

Hey, maybe instead of having tea partiers and people like James Inhofe on their shows explaining why climate change isn't happening and that the only energy policy we need is "drill, baby, drill", they could persuade some actual climate scientists to come on and explain the mechanisms of climate and why excess carbon dioxide really is a threat to us all.

It's a great suggestion, Ms. Brazile, but I won't hold my breath for the cable news executives to take you up on it.

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